A man gets an mpox vaccine
Posed by models (Photo: Shutterstock)

Fears continue to mount that mpox (formerly called monkeypox before the WHO renamed it last November) could be making a return for the summer.

Health officials have recorded eight new cases in Chicago since April 17. According to the LGBTQ+ focussed Howard Brown Health, this compares to just one case in the previous three months.

Both figures could be an under-representation as some people are not diagnosed.

All cases were in gay and bisexual men. Six out of the eight had been fully vaccinated, while one had been partially vaccinated.

The report follows a similar one from France last month. In a cluster of 17 men who acquired Mpox there, 10 reported being fully vaccinated. None of these cases, or those in Chicago, required hospitalization.

There is no specific vaccine for Mpox. However, as the virus is similar to smallpox, the vaccine for that virus offers a large degree of protection from Mpox. The brands Imvanex and Jynneos are used in Europe. In the US, it’s predominantly Jynneos.

No vaccine is perfect, and some vaccinated individuals will still get the disease. However, normally that’s around 25% of all Mpox cases. In the French instance, 59% of the cases were in vaccinated men.

Upcoming Pride and fetish festivals

In the US, health officials are concerned that the approaching summer Pride season could fuel a new surge in mpox.

“We urge sexually active members of our community to receive the mpox vaccine. For example, unvaccinated people planning to attend International Mr. Leather at the end of May should receive their first dose of the mpox vaccination as soon as possible,” said Dr. Patrick Gibbons, Chief Medical Director at Howard Brown Health in a press statement.

“The more people who get vaccinated, the better protected the LGBTQ+ community will be from another outbreak of Monkeypox this year.”

Howard Brown encourages people to check for symptoms of mpox, “such as new bumps, blisters, or rash in the face, trunk, hands, or back.”

​​Last year’s outbreak resulted in just over 30,000 diagnosed cases in the US and 42 deaths, according to recent CDC data.

If you have never had the mpox vaccine, do talk to a medical advisor about it. Also, if you only ever had one dose of the two-dose regime (usually administered at least four weeks apart), medical authorities stress the importance of getting your second dose to maximize your protection.

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